Frequently Asked Questions

What is a social enterprise?

A social enterprise is a business which has

  • a social or environmental mission at its core,
  • earns at least half of its income through trading and
  • has little or no profit distribution.

There are several legal forms for social enterprises in the UK, such as CICs (Community Interest Companies), companies limited by guarantee without share capital, charitable trusts, credit unions and housing associations.

What is a social entrepreneur?

A social entrepreneur is someone who sets up and runs a social enterprise. They are motivated by their passion for a social or environmental issue. Read more here.

How many social enterprises are there in North Northants?

We don’t know! But we want to find out. We consider it really important to understand the local social enterprise economy as well as recognise all the benefits we all bring. One of the aims in setting up this network is to find out about the existing social enterprises. Part of the problem is that many businesses may not even realise they are a social enterprise, for example if they are a charitable trust and used to rely on donations but now earn their income by delivering services and/or supplying goods.

What organisations are out there to support local social enterprises?

Currently in Northamptonshire one of the main sources of support for social enterprise is from the University of Northampton who deliver Inspire2Enterprise and are the first Ashoka U Changemaker accredited campus in the UK. Ashoka is awarded to colleges and universities globally that have embedded social innovation and social impact as a core value. Inspire2Enterprise offers information, advice and guidance to the sector. The University of Northampton has a range of services which can be accessed by social enterprises this could include research or a student placement through their Changemaker programme. They provide support for businesses in general on behalf of SEMLEP. The University also delivers a number of commercially focused business support schemes accessible to social enterprise

Other business support for social enterprises includes that provided from various sources for all businesses including ‘for profit’ businesses. Local independent network groups such as North Northants Business Network provide a valuable service with news and networking opportunities. The FSB and Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce also provide business support to members.

As a councillor, how can I support social enterprise?

  • First, find your local social enterprises and talk to them. Get to know us and what we are trying to achieve, what our challenges are and then you may be able to see ways we can all help each other.
  • Become well-informed about social enterprises generally to help you recognise the positive benefits for your area. See this guide for councils about the potential of social enterprise and learn about the forthcoming changes to the Social Value Act – important for your procurement processes.
  • Fly the flag for social enterprise at council meetings by supporting motions and decisions that enable social enterprises to thrive.
  • Good at social media? Highlight the good things your local social enterprises are doing – positive news can help lift anyone. Many local social enterprises will be adding their social media accounts to their profiles on this website so you can tag them easily.
  • Got a problem? Make use of your social enterprises by consulting us on relevant issues – it may be something we have experience with and share your goal to improve.

How do I get my social enterprise featured on this website?

We welcome any social enterprises in North Northants to be part of our informal network. None of us are paid to do this so we ask everyone to consider what skills or resources they may be able to contribute. There is no charge to be featured on the website and this option is available to those in our network.

We reserve the right to not include a request and we also can’t make promises about how quickly we can feature your social enterprises – we’ve all got busy day jobs running our social enterprises! Register your North Northants social enterprise here.

Where can I find out more about social enterprise?

Take a look at the Social Enterprise UK website as they have plenty of information to help anyone interested. They promote, campaign and lobby for social enterprises so are a good source of support for all social enterprises. Also the School for Social Entrepreneurs runs courses for those in the sector – currently all online.